Faculty members respond to upcoming shift to online learning
Jessica Guerrucci – Managing Editor
Alexandra Scicchitano – Opinions & Features Editor
With the transition to all online classes approaching, professor of psychology Cheryl Durwin said some professors will be starting from “ground zero.”
“It’s one thing to prep an online course ahead of time and have it kind of ready to go,” said Durwin, “and it’s another thing to say in about a week you have to translate everything that you do in person to something online.”
Despite having taught online before, Durwin said her initial reaction to moving online was panic and frustration.
Professor of psychology Dina Moore said she agreed because it is about making sure students get the same type of experience, but it is often “not possible” to teach something in class the same way online.
For the psychology department, Durwin said students are impacted by what the public schools do since their students are working in elementary schools — which have since been closed from March 17 to 31 by an executive order issued by Gov. Ned Lamont on March 15.
Another issue Durwin said is that students are being forced to move out of the residence halls which means they have to re-locate further away from it in some cases, making it an “extra burden.”
Despite online learning trainings going on, Durwin and Moore said for someone who has never done it, the amount of time to train is not enough.
“I think we’re all going to do the best we can,” said Moore, “but if you’ve never taught — I can’t imagine. I’ve taught online, but if I hadn’t it would be a little scary.”
Moore said while all online classes will be taught differently, the issue will be sticking to the syllabus.
“That’s tough,” she said. “You say we’re going to do this in-class project and now suddenly we’re online so recreating that online is not going to be easy for some people.”
Chairperson of the Physics Department Matthew Enjalran said their department does not teach any classes online currently and that they are all in person.
Enjalran said in other departments they can have entire classes online, while his department “doesn’t have that.”
“We are doing what we can now to migrate material online, even trying to come up with aspects of labs. [There] are already people talking about [it],” said Enjalran.
For physics, Enjalran said one of the biggest concerns is labs, but he said there are already simulations out there that can be used for online class time period.
“We are doing what we can now to migrate material online,” said Enjalran, “even trying to come up with aspects of labs. [There] are already people talking about [it].”
According to Evan Finch, associate professor of physics, faculty is talking about various ways to move labs online.
“We know of some software that is made independently for physics. It’s basically lab simulation type software, which, again, I think would work okay, it might even work well,” said Finch. “We’re looking into various options.”
Despite having options, Finch said online labs are not ideal.
“The labs will be tricky,” said Finch. “A lab is, sort of, an in-person event by nature, so how to do that effectively will be more difficult.”
Contrary to other professors, Finch said the lecture aspect of learning can make the move to online more smoothly.
“I think it will be fine,” said Finch. “The lectures are easy; it’s just recording things.”
Finch said he thinks no one in the country was expecting how much the things would “ramp up.”
“I think they gave us about as much time as they could,” said Finch. “They warned us for several days.”
Fortunately, Durwin said because spring break was coming up the same time as the closing, faculty will have the week to prepare in addition to hearing about the possible transition for some time.
However, as Durwin and Moore stood in an empty Engleman Hall on Wednesday, March 11 — the first day of the shutdown — they said walking around they realized the one thing it lacked was the students — and that they are going to miss them.
“It’s really nice to see students face-to-face,” said Durwin, “but hopefully we get to come back at some point because it’s that face-to-face you’ll miss.”